Oil Sands Regions:

TOTAL AREA:
4,890 km2

TOTAL Human Footprint:
1,229 km2

Region Overview

The Mineable Oil Sands Region (Mineable Region) as identified by the Government of Alberta is an area of approximately 4,800 km2 located north of Fort McMurray where surface mining of oil sands occurs. This region contains 20% of the Athabasca Oil Sand Area’s bitumen deposits. Surface mining is the most recognizable form of bitumen extraction; large shovels are used to excavate the oil sands deposits located close to the earth’s surface. In areas where surface mining has occurred, reclaiming an area that has been stripped of soil, wetlands, forests, and all associated biodiversity poses many challenges. Human footprint status is summarized for the Mineable Region.

Status

As of 2016, human footprint occupied 25.13% of the Mineable Region. Energy was the dominant human footprint, covering 13.06% of the region, followed by urban/industrial footprint, which covered 6.95%. Forestry and transportation footprint covered 3.85% and 0.82% of the region, respectively. 

Human Footprint Type Area (km2) Area (%)
Total Human Footprint 1,229 25.1
Agriculture 0 0.0
Energy 639 13.1
Forestry 188 3.9
Human-created Water Bodies 22 0.5
Transportation 40 0.8
Urban/Industrial 340 7.0

FIGURE: Summary of percentage cover of total human footprint broken down by human footprint category in the Mineable Region, circa 2016.

Total Human Footprint 25.1%

Agriculture 0.0%

Energy 13.1%

Forestry 3.9%

Human-created Water Bodies 0.5%

Transportation 0.8%

Urban/Industrial 7.0%

Trend

Between 2010 and 2016, the total area of human footprint in the Mineable Region increased by 4.76%, from 20.37% to 25.13%. This increase in human footprint was driven by the expansion of energy footprint, which increased from 10.63% to 13.06%. Urban and forestry footprint increased by 1.86% and 0.82%, respectively, over this time period.

Human Footprint Type 2010 (km2) 2016 (km2) Change (km2)
Total Human Footprint 996 1,229 + 233
Agriculture 0 0 -0
Energy 520 639 + 119
Forestry 148 188 + 40
Human-created Water Bodies 30 22 -8
Transportation 49 40 -9
Urban/Industrial 249 340 + 91
Human Footprint Type 2010 (%) 2016 (%) Change (%)
Total Human Footprint 20.4 25.1 + 4.8
Agriculture 0.0 0.0 -0.0
Energy 10.6 13.1 + 2.4
Forestry 3.0 3.9 + 0.8
Human-created Water Bodies 0.6 0.5 -0.2
Transportation 1.0 0.8 -0.2
Urban/Industrial 5.1 7.0 + 1.9

FIGURE: Trend in the percentage area of total human footprint, and by human footprint category in the Mineable Region between 2010 and 2016. Click on the entries in the legend to turn human footprint categories on and off.